Crime Classics came to CBS September 30, 1953 and was a neat little series of "true crime stories". The show introduced itself succinctly: "Crime Classics, a series of true crime stories from the records and newspapers of every land, from every time. Your host each week, Mr. Thomas Hyland -- connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders." Thomas Hyland was played by Lou Merrill, although you'd never know it was an "actor" doing the part. The great Elliott Lewis, actor, producer and director of Suspense, Broadway is My Beat, and On Stage is in charge of this very intelligent and enjoyable show. Bernard Herrmann composed the music that duplicated authentic music of the era being dramatized. Morton Fine and David Friedkin wrote the scripts. Lewis and his writers collected and developed true crime stories expressly for Crime Classics.
Thomas Hyland's delivery is measured and mild-mannered, as if giving a college lecture. Would that all professors were this interesting! The actors in the stories themselves are uniformly sensitive. Orchestral scores by the great Bernard Hermann, who did Orson Welles' Mercury Theater radio show and then Alfred Hitchcock's films, give the stories sophistication and mood. So do the tasteful sound effects. There is a wry, cool-blooded tone to the proceedings.
Cases profiled on the series ranged from seventeenth-century murder to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Each and every story, however bizarre, is actually based on fact. For example, the show about the Younger Brothers of the American West has some very interesting background details concerning Quantrell's Raiders and the Kansas Jayhawks. In the story of "John Hayes, his Head, and How They Were Parted," we hear the tale of a glassblower who blows glass perfectly and completely surrounding the severed head of a unknown dead man and placed in glass. Then it is placed in a museum where it remained pending identification. Thus his killers were found out by the dead man, using his head.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
This is the Single Episodes Page. The Maintained Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Maintained Set. This Single Episodes page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
If you are interested in preserving Old Time Radio (OTR), you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Facebook and Groups.io.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Maintained Set -- This set contains all known episodes in the best available audio condition with the most accurate dates and titles known to be in general circulation and based on current research at the time of release. Replaces OTRR Certified Accurate and OTRR Certified Complete.
OTRR Non-Maintained Set -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Maintenance process.
Pre-2019 OTRR Definitions:
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that was "Certified Accurate" indicated that all the episodes were properly identified and labeled based on current information but that the series did not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that was "Certified Complete" achieved the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implied that all the files in the series were "Certified Accurate" and also indicated that the series was as complete as possible and included all circulating episodes.
OTRR Non-Certified -- A collection of shows that has not gone through the OTRR Certification process.
Also, beginning in 2019, the version numbers of our OTRR releases changed format -- instead of v1.0 or v2.1, we are now using a version number that reflects the year and month the set was released. The format used is a two-digit year followed by a two-digit month. For example, "v1906" indicates a set that was released in June 2019, or "v1910" indicates a set released in October 2019.
NOTE: There are no passwords for any of our ZIP files. If you are prompted for a password, before downloading the file again, try unzipping the file into a shorter full folder path name -- for example, unzip to "C:\" instead of "C:\Documents and Settings\your_Windows_ID\some_other_folder\". Sorry, some of our releases contain long folder and file names, which sometimes manifests itself on the Windows platform as prompting for a password for the ZIP file. Or try renaming the ZIP file itself to a shorter name before unzipping.
November 14, 2019 Subject:
Perfect for crime book lovers
Sometimes, I don't want to get too involved with a book, and today everything is a series of 10+ books, but I just want to hear a good story. This is exactly what I need in such moments.
February 6, 2019 Subject:
Pleasant time spender
Enjoying these shows...thanks for sharing.
July 5, 2017 Subject:
BERNARD HERRMAN RULES!!!!....
Besides the excellence in the acting as well as the background research, not to mention Elliot Lewis' creative control-Bernard Herrman's GENIUS with the background music....Whatever the time period Herrman's music puts us there: Ancient Rome for "23 KNIVES AGAINST CAESAR", 19th Century Scotland with the Burke and Hare episode, Medieval Italy with the Borgias, several episodes set in Raj India , pre and post Colonial America, Czarist Russia, etc...Whatever the assignment-radio, movies and television Herrman would give 110%...
December 1, 2016 Subject:
Another Elliott Lewis gem
The 1st time I heard an episode of "Crime Classics," right away I thought that Elliott Lewis was involved. The production quality, the acting, writing . . . all top notch. A great show to listen to at bedtime. I wish it caught on when it was originally aired so there were more episodes, but the ones that were created are ALL GOOD. This ranks right up there with "Suspense" and "Escape."
February 18, 2016 Subject:
Try it youll like it
very interesting to listen to while driving I enjoy every minute
December 9, 2014 Subject:
One of THE Best
Love everything about this series. The narrator is wonderful. Sorry when I hit play on #51.
I agree with just about everyone else who has commented on this show that it is one of the better OTR crime series. The only thing I can add is my opinion of the fact brought up by others that there are many women criminals in these shows. I find this to be quite refreshing as most shows feature men as criminals. Since about half the population is women, I don't see any sexist bias here at all.
February 19, 2013 Subject:
These shows are great! The funny thing is the two things that make this show unique seem to be contradictory. The first is the ironic tone of the narrator, and the second are the gorgeous, brooding scores of Bernard Herrmann. It all works though.
January 16, 2013 Subject:
I love this!!
This is the most entertaining radio show I've ever heard. I absolutely loved each episode. Thank you for your hard work and devotion to preserving history in all forms.
July 19, 2010 Subject:
I love the narration, the stories are engaging (albeit some more than others).
July 14, 2010 Subject:
Text is from OTRCAT.com (Old Time Radio Catalog)
Text is copied and pasted from the OTRCAT.com website:
I adore this radio show. It is pure historical true crime told in a sort of jovial way. Too bad there aren't that many episodes, but every one is worth it's weight in gold. Every time I listen to an episode, I find myself researching the actual true crime!
July 12, 2009 Subject:
Production values of this show are fantastic -- sound effects, music, everything is top-notch.
Also the writing is very clever.
One interesting thing: a lot of amoral women in these episodes. The stereotype of the conniving, grasping shrew appears often. So, perhaps a bit of a sexist slant, but if that doesn't offend you too much, then these shows are highly recommended.
January 6, 2008 Subject:
Very Good Show!
I really enjoyed this show. Previous to finding this site the only otr I listened to was Sherlock Holmes w/Basil Rathbone. Its very exciting finding shows like this.
A few cases I never heard of plus the old favorites like Jack the Ripper. Very well done and interesting. Wish they were still making them.